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, of course. shakespeare. of course. john killen. books have meant too much to me. i spent seven years of my life as a mute. but i read. i read everything. and i memorized everything. so many writers, i just -- i absorbed them. and they still inform my life. >> belva: books not only helped her gain her voice but transformed her path. encouraged by her good friend, james baldwin, she wrote her first novel, the all biographical "i know why the changed bird sings" in 1968. since then, she's written everything from poems to children's books to cookbooks. in 1992, her poetry reached millions of americans at president bill clinton's inauguration. >> across the wall of the world, a river sings a beautiful song. it says, "come, rest here by my side." >> belva: and while her writing continues to inspire audiences of all generations, her impact doesn't end there. you've spent your life helping others, reaching out, supporting, including me. why do you do that? what motivates you inside? with your celebrity status, that you feel you still need to reach back? >> i owe it to another person to say what i'
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